Friday, June 20, 2008
On Monday, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held a
media briefing to release a report, "OSTP 2.0, Critical Upgrade." Drawing
on the advice of former Presidential Science Advisors, the report calls on
the next President to:
1) Name a Cabinet-level Assistant for Science and Technology Policy early,
2) Integrate OSTP with other policymaking bodies in the White House, and
3) Establish mechanisms to obtain expert advice in a timely manner.
Above all, the Science Advisor must have easy access to the President.
Written by some of the smartest science-policy experts in Washington, the
report refrains from bashing the current OSTP. What's New is under no
In his 2003 State-of-the-Union Address, President Bush promised to free us
from dependence on oil from the Middle-East and clean up our environment
by using hydrogen as a fuel. Oceans of hydrogen are available.
Presidents are not required to be familiar with the first law of
thermodynamics, but the willingness of industry to play along is
frightening. Within months, GM had a hydrogen car driving around Capitol
Hill, and Shell had added a hydrogen pump at a nearby station. This week
Honda announced the Clarity, a highly-subsidized hydrogen fuel-cell car
and said Jamie Lee Curtis is buying one. She lives near one of the four
hydrogen stations in California. Today a NY Times editorial was mildly
skeptical. You can make cars that run on hydrogen, although they have big
problems, but it won't fix the energy problem or clean up the
Sigh! Genepax uses a membrane to breaks the water down into hydrogen and
oxygen, and then uses the hydrogen as fuel. A year ago there was a
similar scam (WN 10 Aug 07) . Sam
Leach did it in 1971, when gas was only $1.31 corrected for inflation. He
demonstrated his car, collected money from "investors," and then retired
to an ocean-side villa in California. Occasionally seen in a chauffer-
driven Rolls Royce that ran on gasoline, it was rumored that Leach had
sold out to the oil barons.
Cell phones, WN has pointed out, can't cause cancer, but several readers
have directed me to a web site that purports to show cell phones popping
corn. "So how do you explain that, Mr. Smartypants?" I couldn't, but
Wired reports that the hoax was the work of Cardo Systems, a company that
markets low-power stuff.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed suit to
prevent the state of South Carolina from producing specialty license
plates showing a cross superimposed on a stained glass window and bearing
the words, "I believe." It doesn't say what is believed in but we can
assume it's not legalization of marijuana.